The 5 essential ingredients for meaningful 360-feedback

Our 360-feedback accreditation starts with 2 simple questions:  When have you seen 360-feedback make a really positive impact?  When have you seen 360-feedback fail to make the desired impact?

The answers we get typically lead to two main points of learning.  Firstly, the wide variation in how 360-feedback is implemented within organisations becomes apparent and we hear some wonderful stories of triumph and some horror shows of misuse.  Secondly, the conversation naturally draws out the different elements that contribute to these flying successes and damp squibs.

At JCA Global, we recognise that a well-considered 360-feedback process is a gift, providing fuel for personal development.  However, we also know that without consideration, 360-feedback can very easily be regarded suspiciously, and something which people will ultimately steer well clear from.

Whether disengagement is through a lack of psychological safety, an attitude of apathy, or even anger in response to the demands placed upon individuals during the roll out – the trigger is often avoidable.

Below are 5 essential ingredients that JCA encourage clients to address when deploying 360-feedback.

  1. Be crystal clear in the primary intention 

360-feedback is best used only for development.  This should be agreed and communicated with all stakeholders involved in the build and use of the 360-feedback.  The benefit of this approach is it creates space for the psychological safety needed for participants to request and provide open feedback.  Avoid using 360-feedback as part of the formal performance management process as this increases the risk of it becoming a political tool open to misuse.  Finally, 360-feedback should never be used in place of difficult conversations or as an ‘exiting’ strategy.

  1. Co-create the process 

Good 360-feedback processes engage multiple stakeholders in the design and development process.  This can be things like workshops understanding and designing the competencies and indicators used, design of the administration and rollout process, or even sessions showcasing the benefits and opportunities. This co-creation will secure buy-in and clarity around the intention and roll-out.

3. Pay attention to potential rater overload

When rolling out the project, the aim of the game is to avoid individual rater over-load or ‘jamming’ the organisation. To avoid such outcomes, we recommend clients consider how they can most effectively stagger the rollout and that that they allow 4-6 weeks for all feedback to be completed.

  1. Take stock of the organisational climate 

Before you dive headlong into initiating a 360-feedback process, it is well worth taking a step back and asking yourself “what is the current climate of the organisation?” and “how are we at giving and receiving feedback at the moment?”.  If the organisation is going through a difficult period (or if people are in a ‘survival’ state of mind) then consideration is needed about how the project is managed and communicated as this will influence the mindset of those requesting and providing feedback.

  1. Good, proactive and timely communications 

Engage your participants and engage them early.  Participants may be unaware of the tasks involved in 360-feedback and early communication allows you to clearly outline to participants the tasks that they need to do and the timelines attached.

You also need to consider and provide proactive communications to the raters who are invited to provide feedback on participants – try to avoid that the first thing they know about the process is an email asking them to give feedback on a colleague appearing in their inbox.  Providing a simple briefing email for participants to approach their raters with that explains the process and why they’re undertaking it (for personal development!) goes a long-way for improving the quality of feedback provided.

 

As you can see, there are many elements that need careful consideration when rolling out 360-feedback successfully.  Get these right and you are half way there to implementing one of the most powerful methods for facilitating personal development at work.  The final part of the jigsaw is ensuring that the 360-questionnaire and competency framework being used are fit-for-purpose.  To see if that’s an area JCA Global can help with, read more about our 360-feedback offering here or get in touch at info@jcaglobal.com or 01242 282900.

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